Sorry there has been such a gap in the updates, but sometimes everyday life just gets in the way of blogging!
Day 54 - Wednesday 28th May:
Time for the boys to have a little break again. Pam and I drove down to meet them today and picked them up from a car park in Worcester. As the weather for the previous few days had been very wet, so were the boys. Fortunately, we had booked a very nice hotel in Cheltenham (The Cheltenham Park Hotel). After an enjoyable lunch in Worcester, we drove to Cheltenham and the boys were able to enjoy good food, the all important showers and a comfy bed for the night.
Day 55 - Thursday 29th May:
After a leisurely full English breakfast, the boys enjoyed a day off, wandering around the city centry of Cheltenham (an attractive place with lots of regency style houses). We partook of coffee in the sun fram a pavement cafe, then returned to the hotel for wine of the sun terrace, swimming and suanas and later, a very good dinner at the hotel.
Day 56 - Friday 30th May:
With their little break rapidly coming to a close, the condemned men ate a hearty breakfast. I had brought John S some new walking boots, as his old ones where now so worn out that they were causing problems on one of his heels. This was the moment of truth - would boots that were brand new and not 'broken in' make things worse or better? I'd also brought the boys a considerable stash of instant mash. This seemed like a good idea to me as they must be sick of rice by now. However, they both seemed to think this was hilarious and made lots of wise-cracks about not being able to complete the walk because of the weight of mash in their bags! Some people don't know what's good for them. Next there was the 'ceremoney of the rucksack pack'; exchanging dirty clothes for clean and renewing provisions. Finally, we drove them back to where we had found them, in Worcester. The walk was back on!
As we drove off, the boys turned towards Tewkesbury and adventure. They camped on the Tewkesbury Road, outside the 'Drum and Monkey' pub where a fishy dinner was purchased; Seabass for John D and Cod for John S. Seems fooish to me when there was so much mash to be enjoyed.
Day 57 - Saturday 31st May:
Onwards to beyond Gloucester today. the boys camped beside the Glouceter and Sharpness Canal. The weather was very hot and humid - possibley the highest temperatures yet. John S' new boots have been rubbing on his toes a bit, but he is putting tape and plasters on them. Hopefully the boots should start to 'give' in the next few days. His sore heal, however, is now completely fine. The boys ate some of the many packs of instant mash, that I had brought for them, with some ham. It makes a change form rice and onions!!
Day 58 - Sunday 1st June:
With the weather dull, hot and humid, the boys walked along the A38 today, camping by the roadside about 25 miles north of Bristol. Earlier in the day they had followed the Gloucester and Sharpness canal for a while, meeting up with more interesting boat people. A kind couple on a long boat invited them on board for bacon and sausage sandwiches. John S was delighted to meet their English Bull Terrier named Maverick. He was much better behaved than our bully, Archie. He was a lot older than Archie so perhaps there is hope that Arch will mellow with age!! At lunch time they called into the Old Forge pub at Whitchurch (A38), and enjoyed a full roast dinner each and a little beer!! That unfortunately meant that they weren't able to work on their instant mash mountain at all, never mind I'm sure carrying it is character building for them! John S' toes aren't too bad - the tape seems to be helping.
Day 59 - Monday 2nd June:
The boys found themselves in Almondsbury, about 7 miles north of Bristol today. John S knew that he recognised the placename when they arrived. A clergy friend of his, (Simon) used to be vicar there and John could remember visiting the vicarage some years previously. Although Simon has now moved on, John thought it would be nice to call at the vicarage and find out who the current vicar is. When they got to the vicarage it didn't look at all familiar. Phil (current vicar) was extremely friendly and invited the boys in. The house didn't look familiar inside either. John was puzzled. After a conversation that contained some confusion, it transpired that, in fact, John had never been to Almondsbury at all. His friend Simon had actually lived in Almondbury (notice the crucial 's' missing). Almondbury is, of course, in Yorkshire!! Only John could confuse Yorkshire and Gloucestershire. It's a good job that John D is good at finding his way and reading maps. On his own, John S would probably be wandering round in ever decreasing circles! Anyway, it all turned out for the best, because kind Phil and his family made the boys extremely welcome; giving them some delicious Moussaka for dinner (mash mountain untouched!) and inviting them to camp in the vicarage garden. Honestly, those boys always fall on their feet.
Day 60 - Tuesday 3rd June:
Having been told that they would be unlikely to find anywhere suitable to camp in or around Bristol, the boys set off today determined to walk right to the far side of it today. They felt by the end of the day that Bristol must be the biggest city in the world. Starting from the suburbs on one side of it , through the city centre and on to the edge of the suburbs on the other side turned out to be a distance of about 15 miles. Add on the distance they walked from Almondsbury and that adds up to a lot of walking in one day. They were feeling the pace a bit when they got to the city centre; so sitting at a pavement cafe, on what was probably the equivalent of Newcastle's Northumberland Street, they took of their boots and socks while they had their coffee. They realised that they had probably lost all sight of what is conventionall behaviour when they became the object of many stares from passers by!
The boys ended the day about 38 miles of Taunton in north Sommerset. They found an aggregate quarry where the manager gave them permission to camp. However, he did warn them to be up and away before 9.30 a.m. as that would be when they blasting would start - intersting alarm clock!! They experienced success on the mash front as there was no where near by to tempt them with anything else.
Day 61 - Wednesday 4th June:
The boys are now in the Sommerset Flats - cider country! The weather was fine but the day didn't start too well as John S managed to knock over the kettle inside his tent, soaking his mattress and sleeping bag with more than half a liter of water!! They set off, still heading for Taunton, but after half an hour's walking they came to sign post that actually showed they were further away from Taunton than they had been before they set off. I always knew that sign posts couldn't be trusted. I'm sure the people who produce them just make rough estimates of the distance to places. Undaunted, the boys carried on along the A38 (also known as the Bristol road) for some 18-20 miles. When they came to the Fox and Goose pub they took this as a sign they should stop. Inside they got chatting to Vas and Kelly, the owners/landlords. They had spotted the boys walking along the A38, several times, as they had been driving back and forth during the day. They took pity on the two Johns and offered them free bed and breakfast for the night. The day was turning out much better than it had started.
New boots update - still rubbing on John's toes. He is now using paper napkins to cushion his feet - he seems to think it is working better than tape or plasters!
Mash update - as the Fox and Goose do lovely meals there is unlikely to be any movement on the mash.